Biographies of Monroe County People
Page 22


From Semi-Centennial History of the City of Rochester
by William F. Peck (1884)
pages 685 - 686

Edwin PancostEDWIN PANCOST. The subject of this sketch was born in Scipio, Cayuga county, N. Y., on the 1st of June, 1812, and died June 22d, 1867, at the age of fifty-five years. He was the youngest of a family of fourteen children. After spending a portion of his early life at school, feeling a desire to start in life for himself, he obtained permission from his parents to leave home. He accordingly went to Auburn, in his native county, where he was employed in a dry goods store. In 1831, when he was nineteen years of age, he came to Rochester, where for a time he served as clerk in the store of Kempshall & Bush. Three years later (1834) he married the eldest daughter of the late Oren Sage. He soon after began the boot and shoe business on his own account. In the following year he formed a copartnership with Mr. Oren Sage who had been in the same business since 1827. The firm continued as Sage & Pancost until 1856, when E. O. Sage was admitted. Under the name of Sage, Pancost & Co., the firm did business until 1860, when Oren Sage retired and Wm. N. Sage was admitted. This partnership, under the name of Pancost, Sage & Co., continued until the death of Mr. Pancost in 1867. The firm was for some years one of the largest manufacturers of boots and shoes in the country.

Mr. Pancost always occupied a conspicuous position among the prominent business men, and in the social and official circles of the city. Though never seeking political office, he was often entrusted with positions of responsibility, where his strict business habits and well known integrity rendered him cspecially useful. He was elected alderman of the first ward for two years, and held the office of school commissioner one or two terms. Always foremost in promoting the cause of education, he was made a member of the board of trustees of the Rochester university from its first establishment. He also evinced a deep and practical interest in the Theological seminary. He was a trustee of the Monroe County savings bank, a director of the First National bank of Rochester, and a prominent member of the board of trade. These institutions united in paying tribute to Mr. Pancost's worth in appropriate resolutions passed after his death. He was for many years a member of the First Baptist church, in which he held the offices of deacon and trustee; he was also superintendent of the Sabbath-school for seven years.

It was said of Mr. Pancost, by one who knew him well, that an indomitable will was a prominent characteristic of his life. He was an independent thinker, and when he had once reached a conclusion, it was difficult to turn him from the purpose he had formed. His mind was clear, comprehensive and well-balanced, and he was in the habit of cultivating it by constant and critical study. Mr. Pancost's benevolence was earnest, practical and discriminating, and his henefactions were both large and well bestowed, while they were so modestly made that few were aware of their extent. His Christian character and perfect uprightness pervaded all the acts of his life, gaining for him the unqualified respect of the entire community. His life and character were correctly portrayed by one of the speakers in a meeting of the board of trade after Mr. Fancost's death, in the following words: "He has perfectly fulfilled the command to be 'fervent in spirit, diligent in business, serving the Lord.'"

From Semi-Centennial History of the City of Rochester
by William F. Peck (1884)
pages 686 - 687

JONATHAN CHILD was always unobtrusive; always true to his convictions in sunshine or storm. He was unaffected by envy; not dazzled by prosperity; not demeaned by reverses. He indulged in no man-worship for the exalted, or disdain for the lowly. He was a self-respecting, Christian man.

These were his personal characteristics. To this may be added - his temper was genial; his manners courteous; his presence marked.

Mr. Child was born in Lyme, N. H., January 30th, 1785. Lyme is directly on the Connecticut river, opposite Thetford, Vt. His father's home was in Thetford, but owning, and temporarily occupying, a farm in Lyme, Mr. Child there first saw the light, surrounded by the bears and wolves. His early life was spent in Thetford, upon a charming plateau; upon the foot hills of the White Mountains; 1,500 feet above the sea. He was prepared for Dartmouth college, at Hanover, an adjoining town in New Hampshire, but, owing to a fracture of his knee, severely painful and slow of recovery, his expectations of a college education were relinquished. When he was twenty-one years old, in accordance with the then New England custom, his father gave him a saddle-horse and one hundred dollars, and, thus equipped, he started westerly to make his way through life. He reached Utica, N. Y.; secured a position as school teacher; sold his horse, and remitted to his father the proceeds with the one hundred dollars given him, and thus began his career, feeling unshackled with that slight pecuniary obligation.

This self-reliance was in his blood. It was, perhaps unconsciously, a part of his muscle. Wendell Phillips says that a despised opinion of 1620 was soon a precedent; then a statute; ended by being incorporated into the blood, bones, minds and souls of the babies.

His New England parentage was pure and his lineage wholly Puritan. His ancestors were among the English emigrants to America, under Governor Winthrop, in 1630 - ten years after the Pilgrim fathers. The historical record is: "In 1630, about three hundred of the best Puritan families came to New England. They were virtuous, well educated, courageous men and women, who left comfortable homes with no expectations of returning." Among them were General Grant's ancestors. Among them, too, was listed as a passenger Oliver Cromwell. The English government prevented his departure. It was providential. He remained to cut off the head of Charles I., a tyrant. Both New and Old England were then doing duty in advancing liberty. The one - by creating a state with civil and religious freedom; the other - by wielding a headsman's axe.

Peaceful farmers in New England, Mr. Child's ancestors yet obeyed all calls which summoned them to war. When trouble came, they shouldered their flint-locks, and in King Philip's and other Indian massacres, protected their homes as became Christian braves, and then quickly returned to their cornfields.

In the battle of Lexington twenty-two of the family, whose names and memories are honored by their descendants, fought and bled in driving back the British slayers.

The grandfather of Jonathan Child, his namesake, gave himself and eight sons, Green Mountain boys, during the revolution, as patriot soldiers. He fought at Bennington, at Bunker Hill, in Pennsylvania. in New York, at Lake Champlain, there resisting the same red coats with whom he was an ally in 1755, at Quebec, when he, holding the commission of King George II. as a British officer, fought the French when Montgomery and Montcalm fell. At the close of the revolutionary war, with liberty won, he returned to his Vermont home, bearing a colonel's commission in the patriot army.

Such were the progenitors of Jonathan Child. As for himself, he served his country during the war of 1812, and was in the engagement at Fort Erie, the most sanguinary battle fought on this continent prior to the rebellion.

Mr. Child moved to West Bloomfield, Ontario county, from Utica, and while there was twice elected member of Assembly - in 1816 and '17. He, for a while, was in business at Charlotte, the mouth of the Genesee, shipping produce to Montreal, and was there postmaster. In 1820, he removed to Rochester which thenceforward was his home. He was a merchant, forwarder, and contractor. He constructed the first locks on the Erie canal at Lockport. In 1834, when Rochester became a city, he was its first mayor. During the second year of his mayoralty, disagreeing with the common council on the propriety of giving licenses to sell intoxicating liquors, he resigned his office, although the board offered to relieve him from the necessity of signing them by appointing a special officer for that purpose. He declined to accept the favor, thinking it an evasion of his official duties, and an indirect way of countenancing and effecting what his judgment disapproved, yet avoiding the responsibility.

As to his domestic life, he married a daughter of Colonel Nathaniel Rochester, one of the founders of the city. Their married life continued, until severed by death, for over thirty years. His own death occurred October 27th, 1860. "As he was closing his eyes in death he heard of the successful election in Pennsylvania which gave assurance of the election of Mr. Lincoln to the presidency, and then, as if spiritual prescience was illuminating his last moments, he thanked God that slavery would die."

Such are a few outlines of a good man's useful career. Jonathan Child was a valuable citizen; respected by the community; beloved by his family and friends.

From Semi-Centennial History of the City of Rochester
by William F. Peck (1884)
pages 687 - 690

William GorslineWILLIAM HENRY GORSLINE, a well known contracting builder and business man of Rochester, was born in that city on the 12th of July, 1829. Richard Gorsline, his father, who was of French extraction, resided for some years at East Bloomfield, whence he removed to Rochester in 1816. He was a builder by profession, and many substantial and costly specimens of his work, still standing, testify of his genius and skill. The ponderous stone aqueduct which crosses the Genesee river, reviving, by its solid masonry and graceful arches, recollections of old time bridges over more classic streams, was built by him. He was a typical specimen of the race from which he sprang, being sprightly and vivacious, and possessing the artistic temperament in a marked degree, as well as a fine physique and great capacity for hard work. He lived to a good old age, dying in 1870, and was survived by his wife, whose maiden name was Aurelia Rice, about seven years. For some years preceding his death he was a deacon in Dr. Shaw's Presbyterian church in Rochester, and his name heads those inscribed on the memorial slab to the founders of that edifice. William Henry Gorsline, the subject of this sketch, was brought up and educated in his native place. The school he attended was presided over by one of those fiery-tempered village pedagogues, now, fortunately, less frequently found in such responsible positions, who was commonly known as "old Perry," and who is doubtless remembered with unpleasant associations by many other citizens of Rochester. "Old Perry" was much more given to flogging than to education, and, his harshness growing unendurable, young Gorsline abandoned the school at the age of fourteen years, and associated himself with his father, then busily engaged in prosecuting his profession. With him he obtained the most excellent training to which he could have been subjected; for, besides being a willing and active boy, he inherited his parent's taste for everything pertaining to architecture and building. On attaining to manhood he became invested with responsibility as his father's trusted associate, and acquitted himself with credit both to himself and his industrious and painstaking parent. As he became older he became intensely interested in municipal affairs, and engaged in politics with all the warmth of an enthusiastic nature. After some little experience, his fellow-citizens, who readily appreciated his capacity for public business, nominated him for alderman of the city. His election followed, and he served one term, at the close of which, feeling that he had discharged his share of public duty, he devoted himself exclusively to business pursuits. Mr. Gorsline's acknowledged excellence in his business has naturally led to his being intrusted with the construction of many important buildings, - both public and private; and it may be said that the large number of the fine structures, for which the city of Rochester is famous, have been erected by him. Among the most noteworthy of these are the University of Rochester, the Rochester Theological seminary, Rockerfeller hall, the High school, the City hall, the Arsenal, the Rochester savings bank, Powers commercial building, Powers Hotel, Warner's fire-proof building (one of the finest in the city, which was built in six months), the Cunningham carriage factory, the First Presbyterian church, the Central church, the Brick church (Dr. Shaw's) and the Jewish synagogue. Besides these, Mr. Gorsline has constructed many large blocks of buildings devoted solely to business purposes, and a number of the most magnificent private residences in the city. To give an idea of the magnitude of the operations in which Mr. Gorsline has been engaged, reference need only be made to some of the principal buildings he has constructed. Probably foremost among them stands Powers commercial building, situated in the very heart of Rochester's business district. This structure is said to be unsurpassed, either in magnitude, convenience, or elegance, by any similar edifice in this country. Quadrangular in shape, it has a total frontage of over five hundred feet, and is eight stories in height, exclusive of the basement, with a French roof of tile and slate twenty-five feet high, above which rises a tower for sixty feet, averaging thirty feet long by twenty-four feet wide. The structure is fire-proof throughout, and so perfectly secure that no insurance has ever been deemed necessary. The ground floor of this edifice is occupied by Powers banking house and fifteen spacious stores, while the upper parts contain about two hundred and fifty rooms. Everything demanded by the most improved systems of modern comfort are combined in this building, including, of course, thorough ventilation, steam-heating apparatus, and water facilities in every apartment, and two steam elevators. Constructed on the tubular plan, every room in the edifice is amply lighted from without; while the halls and corridors, paved with Vermont and Italian marble and wainscoted with the latter, are airy, spacious, and elegant. The basement, which is furnished in keeping with the rest of the structure, contains the drums and hoisting apparatus for the elevators, steam engine, powerful steam pump for forcing water throughout the entire structure, eleven steam boilers employed in supplying heat, and all the necessary mechanism for making changes and repairs in so colossal an establishment. Some idea of the solidity of the edifice may be gained from the fact that it is calculated to resist a pressure of two hundred pounds to the square foot on every floor. More than one-half of the upper floor of the building is devoted to a superb art gallery. A striking evidence of the confidence reposed in the integrity of Mr. Gorsline is afforded by the fact that all the payments made by Mr. Powers for his splendid hotel, just completed (which was finished in eleven months from the day of commencement), passed through his hands. The limits of a biographical sketch do not permit of a more extended allusion to Mr. Gorsline's labors. In conclusion, however, it is pertinent to say that each succeeding task in which he found himself engaged, proved in a still greater degree his claim to preeminence in his calling. Whatever he undertook to accomplish, he entered upon with zeal and prosecuted with all the vigor of an enthusiast. The larger the undertaking the more it seemed to develop his capabilities, and, even though sometimes threatened with loss, he never relaxed his efforts to make his work as perfect as all his great skill and all the modern appliances and inventions would permit. No confidence reposed in him ever proved unfounded, and his name has become synonymous, in the city where he has spent his whole life, with all that is honorable and reliable in business transactions. In 1874 Mr. Gorsline entered into partnership with Ira L. Otis, a gentleman of liberal education and fine business capacity, for the manufacture of salt-glazed pipe. The factory of the concern has become one of the foremost of its kind in the country. The firm now have four clay mills, two presses and ten kilns for burning pipe, in active operation, the entire plant occupying a space of three acres on Oak street. The superior quality of this company's manufactures has commended them to general use, and from the Company's retail yard in New York city shipments are now made to all parts of the globe. The annual product for some time past has averaged about one hundred and fifty miles of pipe yearly. The success of this enterprise is largely due to the inventive genius of Mr. Gorsline. From the various facts given in this sketch it can be seen that Mr. Gorsline's life has been an exceedingly active one, and that his business operations have always been more or less on a gigantic scale. Yet, despite the wear and tear imposed by the important undertakings and enterprises to which he has devoted his life, his energy is in no way abated and his activity promises much more in the future. Unlike many upon whom fortune has smiled, he does not allow his heart to become hardened by success and wealth, and vanity finds no place in his nature. With cordial respect for every deserving fellow-being, and an active sense of justice to all, he is rarely met in any other than an agreeable mood, and his face is seldom without the smile that comes of a good conscience, and a contented mind. His well known reliability, industry, and thorough practical knowledge of his profession, place him in the front rank among the first-class business men of Rochester. Mr. Gorsline is a trustee of the Brick church, of which the Rev. Dr. Shaw is pastor. His domestic relations are exceedingly happy, and he has the proud satisfaction of seeing a family of five promising sons growing up around him, the eldest of whom, named Russell, is a youth of 20 years. The other sons are Walter, Ralph, William Henry, and Richard aged, respectively, 18, 17, 6, and 4 years.

From Semi-Centennial History of the City of Rochester
by William F. Peck (1884)
pages 690 - 692

ABELARD REYNOLDS. It has been well said that "to write the history of Abelard Reynolds is to write the history of Rochester." He came to the place when no building marked its site, other than one log hut on the west bank of the river, and here his long and useful life was passed, until the great busy city took the place of the woodman's clearing.

Abelard Reynolds was born October 2d, 1785, at a place called Quaker Hill, near Red Hook, Duchess county, N. Y. His father was a saddler by trade, and the son was apprenticed to the same vocation. The family lived successively at Stringer's Patent, in New York, and at Groton, Montville, and Windsor, Conn. When Abelard reached his twentieth year he was given the remaining year of his apprenticeship by his father, and he went to Manchester, Vt. Here he worked at his trade until he accumulated his first hundred dollars. Returning home he found his father in pecuniary difficulty, which he at once assumed and also purchased a farm and began the saddler's business on his own account, at Washington, Berkshire county, Mass. He removed from there to Pitttsfield, where, on the 1st of October, 1809, he was married to Lydia Strong, with whom he was permitted to enjoy a wedded life of seventy years.

In the fall of 1811 Mr. Reynolds determined to make a western tour of observation, with a view to subsequent permanent removal. He loaded a one-horse wagon with saddlery ware, and traveled through Lowville, Watertown, Brownsville, and to Sackett's Harbor, but returned to Pittsfield without having satisfied himself as to a place for permanent settlement. He started again, however, upon a still more extended tour through Western New York, Northern Pennsylvania, to Warren, Ohio, to which place he was strongly attracted. He returned to Pittsfield, and on the 6th of April, 1812, again started westward with the intention of making Warren his future home. He came through Rome, Manlius, Skaneateles, Geneva and Canandaigua, and halted at Bloomfield, where he was informed of the bright prospects of Charlotte. He immediately started for that place. At "the falls" he met Enos Stone, one of the pioneers of Rochester, of whom he learned of the purchase of 100 acres of land by Messrs. Rochester, Carroll and Fitzhugh, who had laid out the tract in lots and offered it for sale. Mr. Stone was their agent. After thorough examination of the distinctive features of Charlotte and Rochester, and comparison of them with his impressions of Warren, he finally. decided in favor of Rochester and immediately purchased lots 23 and 24 (the site of the Arcade) and erected the first frame house on the "100-acre tract." In August of the same year (1812) Mr. Reynolds returned to Pittsfield, disposed of his interest there and arranged for permanent removal to his new home. While absent he was appointed the first postmaster of the village, holding the office eighteen years.

In February, 1813, he removed his family to the little hamlet and soon after opened his dwelling as a public house, the first in the place. Mr. Reynolds lived in the dwelling on the Arcade site until 1817, when he removed to a house which he had built on the corner of Buffalo and Sophia streets, having leased the "tavern" to a Mr. Skinner. In the spring of 1819, the lease having expired, he returned to his first dwelling, where he remained two years, and then removed to a house that stood on the site of the present city hail. There he lived but one year, returning to his own house on Buffalo street, where he remained until he removed to his farm in the western part of the city, in 1836. In 1828 he erected the Arcade then the largest and most expensive building in the United States west of Albany. In 1838 he purchased a house on North Sophia street, where he lived until 1847, when he occupied his residence on South Fitzhugh street. There he died on Thursday, December 19th, 1878, aged ninety-three years.

Such is a brief review of the business and domestic incidents in the life of Abelard Reynolds. In this place little more can be said of him. He was a Whig and Republican in politics, but never sought political preferment, only twice consenting to the use of his name for public office. He was member of Assembly in 1827 and represented the first ward in the board of aldermen in 1838. He was one of the founders of the Athenæum - Rochester's first public library - and furnished a room specially for the library when the Arcade was erected. He was for nearly sixty years a member of the Masonic order, in which he always exhibited a deep interest and warm pride. He passed through the various grades of the order and in 1854, when a member of Monroe commandery, Knights Templar, he was exalted to the high office of Prelate, which he administered for more than twenty years. It was said of him, at the time of his death, that he had "probably received more templars at the altar than any other prelate in the United States."

Mr. Reynolds was a man of public spirit and identified himself unselfishly with every measure having for its object the growth and welfare of Rochester, while his character was broadly founded upon principles of justice, probity, benevolence and kindness.

Six children were born of this marriage already alluded to, four of whom only reached maturity. William A. the eldest, was born at Pittsfield; Mortimer F. (the first white child born in Rochester); Clarrissa R., who married Dr. Henry Strong, of Collinsville, Ill., and Mary E., who married B. D. McAlpine, of Rochester. Of these children, only Mortimer F. is now living of whom mention is made below.

It is eminently proper to make personal reference to the wife of Abelard Reynolds, who was born in Pittsfield, Mass,, September 23d, 1784, and still survives at the great age of one hundred years. For a period longer than the lives of most people, she shared her husband's labors, his trials and his success, and has witnessed the entire growth of Rochester from its first beginning. Their wedded life was one long season of mutual love and helpfulness. In his own language, "She has well performed her share of the burdens which devolved upon us, as a helpmeet." Her children and her home were her world, and to the rearing of the one and the beautifying and making hospitable the other, she ever gave her unselfish devotion. The following beautiful allusion was made to Mrs. Reynolds by Chas. E. Fitch in his address at the celebration of Rochester's semi-centennial: —

"Mrs. Abelard Reynolds came to Rochester, a young wife and mother, to share in the toils of the frontier settlement, and to rear her family in 'the nurture and admonition of the Lord.' What panorama of dissolving woods, of opening thoroughfares, of artificial water-ways, of iron fingers with friendly clasp of distant communities, of ascending walls enshrining peaceful homes or uplifting dome and tower and steeple, of hammers swinging and wheels revolving, of varied industries unfolding and expanding, of hospitals and asylums evoked by the gentle genius of charity, of the confident tread of the sons pressing upon the tottering steps of the fathers, has passed before her eyes. Mother in Israel! we greet thee, to-day, with reverence and love, grateful that thou hast been spared to witness all these wonders, and earnestly imploring that upon the rounded cycle of thy hundred years, now so near its consummation, health and peace and mercy may descend in benediction."

From Semi-Centennial History of the City of Rochester
by William F. Peck (1884)
pages 692 - 694

WILLIAM ABELARD REYNOLDS, eldest son of Abelard and Lydia Reynolds, was born in Pittsfield, Mass., September 2d, 1810, came to Rochesterville with his parents in February, 1813, as above noted. When about six years old he met with an accident, which rendered him a lifelong cripple, necessitating his use of a crutch. He was educated first at the Middlebury academy, Wyoming county, and afterward at the academy in Geneseo where he finished his education. His first business enterprise (aside from assistance rendered his father in the post-office) was in the seed trade, in connection with M. B. Bateham. This business was soon extended by the addition of green-houses and nurseries, and formed the nucleus of the now gigantic nurseries of Ellwanger & Barry, who were in Mr. Reynolds's employ and to whom he transferred the business, and of the world-renowned seed house of Hiram Sibley & Co.

From 1838 to 1845 Mr. Reynolds had the management of the large Livingston flouring mills in Penfield, near Rochester.

January 12th, 1841, he was married to Sophia Clark, of Penfield, whose death occurred about fifteen months later. She was a woman of excellent traits of character, and her death was a blow which left upon him a lifelong impression. He was never afterward married.

In 1845 he assumed control and management of the Arcade, built by his father in 1829. This property was greatly enlarged and improved by him, and it continued in his hands until his death. "The Arcade stands to-day a fitting monument to the far-seeing judgment of his father in its erection and to the liberal and untiring industry of the son in his judicious and unstinted expenditures in its completion."

In 1848 he erected the Corinthian hall, which he managed many years, until his duties became so onerous that he felt compelled to dispose of it.

Mr. Reynolds was, as far as Rochester is concerned, a public man, although he never sought and seldom accepted station of any kind, except as he felt that by identification with various institutions and enterprises, he could promote the general welfare of the city. He was for three years a member of the common council and was a delegate to the last constitutional convention (1867). He was for many years a trustee of the Rochester savings bank and its president when he died. He was president of the board of managers of the Western House of Refuge. He was president and trustee, and one of the foremost patrons of the Athenæum and Mechanics' association, an institution in which he always felt pride and deep interest. With a few others he organised the Western New York Agricultural society, which held its annual fairs in Rochester. He was also a trustee of the Rochester university and was a liberal supporter of the public library, while all worthy charities received his countenance and generous aid.

Mr. Reynolds died on the 12th of January, 1872, aged sixty-one years. The event was mourned by the community at large, and local societies and institutions, some of which have been mentioned, united in spontaneous tributes of respect to his memory, through resolutions of eulogy.

It will, perhaps, more fully delineate Mr. Reynolds's character to quote briefly from the remarks made by President Anderson of Rochester university at the funeral —

"He was a tender, constant and faithful son. Indeed, he may be said to have spent his life in caring for the wants and watching over the happiness of these venerable and aged parents. Surely never a parent's blessing crowned with its priceless garland the head of a more exemplary son."

"He was an eminently faithful man in the discharge of all his obligations. Whatever duties arose out of his relations to his fellow-men, or were voluntarily assumed by him, never failed of performance. This promptness and fidelity in the expenditure of time, or thought, or physical strength, were a part of his nature, and were hardened into habits of life by the action of a steady and unwavering will. Whatever he promised to do was done well and done promptly and thoroughly."

"He was honest and fair in all his business transactions. Few men had better illustrated the sound maxim of morals and economy combined, that no bargain is in the broadest and highest sense a good one, which is not beneficial to all the parties concerned. His numerous tenants became his personal friends. If they were young or inexperienced he gave counsel, encouragement, patronage and aid. How many objects of charity have received his bounty as the landlord of Corinthian hall! In all moneyed transactions, in all public trusts, he retained through life the unbounded confidence of this entire community."

"He was preeminently a gentleman in his social relations, and in his intercourse with all classes of men. With him courtesy took on the value and dignity of a Christian virtue. It was not that superficial varnish of word and manner which often conceal a mean spirit and a hard and vulgar nature. His bearing among men was the natural outgrowth of a benevolent heart and a sincere respect for the rights and feelings of all, without regard to rank or social position. He was endowed with that broad good sense, quick sympathy and delicacy of apprehension which enabled him to say the right word at the right time, and do the right act in the right place. I have never known a truer gentleman than he."

"He was an eminently public-spirited man. I remember to have remarked on some former occasion, that our city was fortunate in the character of the formative forces of its early civil and social life. Take away from Rochester what has resulted from the benevolent feeling, Christian principle and unpaid labor of its public-spirited pioneers, and how morally meagre would be the residue. Among those who have done work for our city, with no motive but the public good, with no reward but the consciousness of duty performed, sve can hardly find a brighter record than that of our departed friend. It seems to me that the noble body of men who, up to this time, have given commercial credit, moral tone and an honorable reputation to our city is fast passing away. There are gathered around this coffin to-day those men in whose hands must lie the well-being of our beautiful city in these coining years. All may not have his capacity to plan and execute for the public good, but all may emulate the simplicity of his aims and the purity of his motives."

"All these virtues of the man seemed to me to spring from deep-rooted moral convictions and Christian feeling. Of his personal religious life I have little knowledge, hut I have learned that the spirit of Christianity is most clearly shown in the love and service of our fellow-men. All sin is involved in the control of the character by selfishness, in the disposition to make all social, civil and personal relations subservient to lust or avarice, ambition or love of power. Too often this selfishness describes the 'course of this world,' and the life of men. The aim of Christ is to reverse all this - so to change the current of the moral life, that, spontaneously, the citizen shall serve the city, the Christian the church; that the learned shall serve the ignorant, the rich shall serve the poor; that the strong shall serve the weak, that the good shall serve the bad. For many years our friend has been in your homes and streets, and every day, like all of us, has been tried by this test. How he has passed this trial you all know. The verdict of this community is expressed in the spontaneous utterances of affection and respect which are springing from every heart and dwelling on every tongue."

The above remarks of President Anderson are not only a just estimate of but a deserved tribute to the character of Mr. Reynolds, and picture the man as he was so well known in the community where he spent his life. In closing a lengthy obituary to Mr. Reynolds, the editor of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle wrote as follows —

"Mr. Reynolds was a man of extraordinary executive ability. This quality showed itself in every enterprise to which he gave his attention. It was this which made him the real head of every public as well as private undertaking to which his mind was directed. He was .a man who worked. He was incapable of indifference upon any subject when it had once excited his interest. lie gave the most patient attention to every detail. A man of such qualities is rare, and his importance to a young and growing community cannot be exaggerated. But, however closely Mr. Reynolds gave his attention to business undertakings and however much his mind was burdened with the cares of public offices, he found time to advance the moral and intellectual interests of the city. He was active in all reforms and emphatically in our educational institutions. His death is a public loss."

The Union & Advertiser gave him, in the course of its lengthy tribute, the following high praise —

"Mr. Reynolds, perhaps as much as any other man, has been closely identified with the career of Rochester, and during his lifetime had as much influence in shaping her affairs as any citizen. The decease of Mr. Reynolds is indeed a public calamity and will be so regarded by all."

From Semi-Centennial History of the City of Rochester
by William F. Peck (1884)
pages 694 - 695

MORTIMER F. REYNOLDS. On the 2d of December, 1814, there was born, in the narrow "clearing" that skirted the ford of the Genesee river, the first child of white parents to see the light upon that "Hundred-Acre Tract" which was the primitive site of the present city of Rochester. Perhaps in no manner could the amazing development of that infant community be brought home so effectively to the apprehension of a denizen of the old world, as by the statement of the concrete fact that the earliest offspring of that colony, having seen in twenty years its incorporation as a city, finds himself now, while still in splendid vigor, surrounded by a population of more than a hundred thousand souls. The emphasis of this fact might, however, be heightened by the further circumstance that his mother also survives to see the wilderness rejoicing and blossoming as the rose.

Of individuals it may be said, as it has been of nations, that that one is happy that has no history. An uneventful, orderly and peaceful life has been this one, coeval hitherto with that of the community in which it began. A struggling infancy, subject to all the hardships and limitations of a raw and poor society, was followed by a maturity of hard and successful labor, and that in turn by intelligent and not indolent repose in the enjoyment of the accumulations of a life-time. The story of Abelard Reynolds has already been told in these pages. That he, of whom we speak, was the son of Abelard and the younger brother of William is that which, more than anything else in his life, would seem to him worthy of record.

MORTIMER FABRICIUS REYNOLDS was the name given, for family reasons, to the firstborn of this backwoods settlement. To say that the young child's boyhood was diligently trained at home and in such schools as were accessible, would only be to reiterate the averment of the Puritan New England origin of his parents. Beyond this not much could be added, but that for thirty years of mature life the man engaged in active commerce in his native city. Withdrawing in 1872, with a competency, from the business in which he had acquired it, he devoted himself thenceforth to the assistance of his venerable father in the management of the large estate left by his elder brother, and which not long afterward devolved almost entirely upon him. But during all this time the interests of the city which had grown up with him engaged his constant observation and his active aid. In many corporate and charitable trusts, in the promotion of public improvements, and in the exercise of that private virtue which bears the name of "public spirit," the time and the means of Mr. Reynolds have been liberally expended. But it is with a foundation but just now laid, upon which is to rise in the future an institution more beneficent, perhaps, than all others established here by private liberality, that he has chosen to link his name and that of his family.

The large estate which had grown out of the purchase of village lots by Abelard Reynolds in 1812 had descended to his son, the sole survivor of the father's six children; the sole descendant, himself childless, who bore the family name of which he was justly proud. Before him father and elder brother had, from the beginning, interested themselves profoundly in the intellectual and moral advancement of the community in which they lived. The subject of this sketch determined, therefore, to establish with that estate an enduring memorial of his family, which should also be a perpetual benefaction to the city. In order, therefore, that there might be a body competent, when the time shall come, to receive and administer such a trust, the legislature of 1882 was applied to for a suitable charter.

It is not agreeable to recall the criticism which met this disclosure of Mr. Reynolds's purpose, upon the publication of the bill. This work is not devoted to disparagement of the people of Rochester, or of any part of them. It is enough, therefore, to say that the bill, as signed by the governor, was such in its terms as to he unanimously rejected by those named in it as trustees. In 1884, however, there was passed "An Act to incorporate the Reynolds Library," which is chapter 9 of the laws of that year. It declared the purposes of the corporation which it created to be "to establish and maintain a public library and reading-room," and "to promote the mental improvement of the inhabitants of the city of Rochester by means of lectures, discussions, courses of instruction, collections of objects of art and science, and other suitable means."

To this body Mr. Reynolds at once turned over a collection of some 12,000 volumes, which, at his own cost, he had some years before rescued from the wreck of the old "Athenæum" which his father and brother had so liberally and efficiently sustained, as a nucleus for the far greater collection which must grow up around it. And it is publicly announced that he has made such disposition that, at his death, the splendid estate known as the "Arcade" and the "East Arcade," together with his superb homestead and its adjoining grounds on Spring street, will pass to the Reynolds Library for its perpetual endowment.

Thus, as it was said of another that Providence denied him children that a nation might call him father, it might, with slight change, be written of the first-born child of the new city. And when the stately figure of the last surviving child of the pioneer Abelard Reynolds shall be no more seen upon the streets of Rochester, a grateful city will perpetuate the memory of the extinct race.

From Rochester and the Post Express; A history of the City of Rochester from the earliest times; the pioneers and their predecessors, frontier life in the Genesee country, biographical sketches; with a record of the Post Express
compiled by John Devoy (1895)
pages 209 - 210


Frederick StarrResidents of Rochester who lived here before or during the civil war are the only ones who can appreciate the influence which was exerted on the community by Frederick Starr and men of his character; their lives were a constant struggle against the evil tendencies in public affairs, and an inspiration to all that was noble and good. Mr. Starr was born in Warren, Connecticut, May 1, 1799. His schoolmates included his cousin, Charles G. Finney, the famous evangelist, and Horace Bushnell, the noted preacher. At the age of twenty he went to New York as a clerk in the bookstore of his uncle, and two years later came to this city, where he began the manufacture of furniture, being the pioneer in what has become one of our heading industries, and building up a large business, which he gave up in 1850 to enter upon the manufacture of pianos. He early identified himself with the First Presbyterian church, in which he was an elder for thirty years; he also helped to organize the Central church, and was a corporate member of the American board. He was an early and practical friend of the temperance cause, to which he gave freely to both time and money. He held strict views on Sabbath observance and assisted in organizing a Sabbath-keeping line of packets on the canal; also working for the stoppage of mails on Sunday. He took a leading part in all work intended for improvement; was foreman of a fire engine company and became the first exempt fireman; assisted in the organization of the first High school and the Rochester Female seminary; was an original trustee of the City hospital, was an early and ardent advocate of free public schools, and aided in securing Ward's museum to the city. He was among the foremost in the Anti-Masonic party and held pronounced anti-slavery views was originally a Free Soiler and joined the Republican party on its formation. He was a member of the Legislature for one term and declined reelection in favor of a friend, Hon. Ashley Sampson. He was for years president of the Monroe County Bible society, and was a member of the Auburn convention of 1837, which led to the formation of the new-school branch of the Presbyterian Church; he was president of the Board of Commissioners of Auburn Theological seminary; a trustee of Ingham university at Le Roy, and an advocate of higher education for women. When the Kansas border warfare broke out he allowed his gifted son, Frederick, to settle in the dangerous locality, and when the war for the Union began sent two sons to the army and paid for a substitute for a third, who was at college. Mr. Starr was a forcible speaker and writer and such a believer in the power of the press that he established the Genesee Evangelist and published it here for several years. He was a man of unswerving integrity, great force of character, pure-minded, philanthropic, and an enemy of everything low or mean. In 1822 he married Sarah Sackett of Warren, Connecticut, who died in 1827, leaving two sons, neither of whom are living. In 1831 he married Lucy Ann Hills of Lennox, Massachusetts, a sister of the late ex-mayor Isaac Hills, and a lovely, cultured woman whose memory is revered by all who knew her. She survived her husband - who died November 27, 1869 - thirteen years, and four of her children are living.

From Rochester and the Post Express; A history of the City of Rochester from the earliest times; the pioneers and their predecessors, frontier life in the Genesee country, biographical sketches; with a record of the Post Express
compiled by John Devoy (1895)
page 210


Few residents of Rochester to-day were more intimately connected with the commercial interests of the city in its earlier history than was Mr. Gaffney. He was born in Ireland June 6, 1824, and came to America with his parents when but seven years of age. The family settled in Utica, where the son gained his education. He early evinced a strong aptitude for mercantile pursuits, and when only seventeen years of age was the owner of the most enterprising dry goods house of that city, thus achieving a notable success in the direction of a prospering and increasing business years before he had reached his majority. Possessing a rare business tact, which was coupled with a remarkable gift of foresight, he saw early in his mercantile career the approaching necessity of seeking elsewhere a larger field - one more in keeping with his great energy and business capacity. In those days Rochester and Buffalo were considered as belonging to the far West, and we find Mr. Gaffney at that period naturally investigating the advantages of the points named with a view of locating permanently in one or other of them. Through the advice and kindly encouragement of a friend, the late O. M. Benedict, he made a choice of the former. In 1849 he married Louisa Burke of Utica, a woman with rare mental qualities, with a character of surpassing loveliness and an irresistible personal charm; one whose charity knew no bounds, and whose death, December 1, 1891, caused universal sorrow. Mr. Gaffney never rallied from the grief of his wife's death, and to those who knew their mutual devotedness it was no surprise that he followed her so soon. In the year of his marriage he removed to this city and laid the foundation of the dry goods establishment which is now known as the house of Burke, FitzSimons, Hone & Company. In 1853 he took into partnership with him, under the firm name of Gaffney, Burke & Company, his brother-in-law, the late Charles J. Burke, the late Charles FitzSimons, and Alexander B. Hone, who had been salesmen in his store. The firm enjoyed marked prosperity. In 1857 Mr. Gaffney retired from active connection with the concern, though still retaining a silent interest in the same, and in the sixties withdrew entirely from the business. He next identified himself with various financial undertakings. For more than two score years Owen Gaffney has moved among the people of Rochester, invariably the same kindly, affable, lovable gentleman, always inviting confidence and setting a high example by a life of unbending probity and honorable purpose. In the days when he figured actively in the business life of the city, it was his personal urbanity and unruffled temperament as much as his business ability that commanded for him so liberal a measure of success. His patrons were his friends, and their friendship was of the enduring kind. His life was gentle, and it may be doubted whether he ever knowingly made an enemy. He took a keen interest in affairs, was intensely devoted to the welfare of Rochester and advanced, so far as lay in his power, every cause that enlisted his sympathy. He was an intelligent observer of men and things, and his mind was well stored with solid information. In a remarkable degree his home was the center and shrine of his affection; and his domestic life was exemplary. He left ten children and eleven grandchildren. A fine old christian gentleman left us when Owen Gaffney sank quietly into his eternal sleep.

  From Rochester and the Post Express; A history of the City of Rochester from the earliest times; the pioneers and their predecessors, frontier life in the Genesee country, biographical sketches; with a record of the Post Express
compiled by John Devoy (1895)
page 211


One of the most esteemed and prominent citizens of Rochester is Mr. George Ellwanger, who was born December 2, 1816, at Gross-Heppach, in the Remsthal, one of the beautiful valleys that extend in every direction through the Kingdom of Würtemberg, in Germany. In accordance with the law and practice in his native country he passed the period of his youth at school. The intervals of study, vacation, etc., he spent with his father and brothers in the vineyards which constituted the family patrimony. After completing his studies he entered a leading horticultural establishment at Stuttgart, where he remained four years, until he had perfected himself in all the arts of horticulture and landscape gardening. He then sought a proper sphere for its profitable use and sailed for this country, arriving in New York in 1835. Pushing westward he first settled at Tiffin, Ohio, but his expectations not being realized he turned his face eastward and came to Rochester in the Spring of that year and entered the horticultural establishment of Reynolds & Bateham. In 1839 he began business for himself, seeing an opening in this then new country for planting fruit and ornamental trees. He bought out the establishment of Reynolds & Bateham and also purchased eight acres of land on Mt. Hope avenue. In 1840 he made the acquaintance of the late Patrick Barry and entered into a partnership under the firm name of Ellwanger & Barry, which continued for fifty years or until Mr. Barry's death. For a long time Mr. Ellwanger has been identified with the banking interests of the city, being successively director in the Union bank, the Flour City bank, trustee in the Monroe County Savings bank and the Rochester Trust and Safe Deposit company since their organization. He is still a director of the Flour City bank, of the Monroe County Savings bank, and a trustee of the Eastman company. As a citizen of Rochester Mr. Ellwanger has constantly exercised a helping and elevating influence on its material prosperity and business integrity. He is always prominent in every public enterprise, giving freely of his time and means. In 1846 he married Miss Cornelia Brooks, a daughter of General Brooks of Livingston, one of the pioneers of Western New York. Four sons, three of whom survive, were born of this marriage; they received advantages of education afforded in the best schools of this country and in extended study and travel in Europe.

From Rochester and the Post Express; A history of the City of Rochester from the earliest times; the pioneers and their predecessors, frontier life in the Genesee country, biographical sketches; with a record of the Post Express
compiled by John Devoy (1895)
page 211


John KinneyJudge Kinney was born in Ogden, Monroe county, New York June 20, 1860, and received his elementary education in the Union school at Spencerport, after which he took collegiate course in St Joseph s college Buffalo. On graduating he began the study of law in the office of William H. Bowman, was graduated from the Albany Law school and admitted to the bar in 1881. He at once entered on active practice, in which his success was so remarkable that when in January, 1890, a vacancy was created in the office of special county judge by the resignation of Judge Werner, Governor Hill's appointment of Mr. Kinney to the position met with general approval. Judge Kinney occupied the county bench so acceptably to the people that in the ensuing election, when he was nominated by the Democratic party for special county judge, he was elected by a majority of seven hundred and ninety-eight, and was the only one on the ticket to escape defeat. As a lawyer he has conducted much important litigation and is regarded as one of the most able members of the Rochester bar, while as a judge he has distinguished himself by his able, comprehensive and impartial decisions. Judge Kinney was married in 1883 to Miss Elizabeth J. Hanlon of Albany and has four children, two sons and two daughters. His residence is 64 Lorimer street.

From Rochester and the Post Express; A history of the City of Rochester from the earliest times; the pioneers and their predecessors, frontier life in the Genesee country, biographical sketches; with a record of the Post Express
compiled by John Devoy (1895)
pages 211 - 212


Hon. William Dean Shuart was born in the town of Mendon, Monroe county, New York, August 11, 1827, received an academic education and attended the Genesee Wesleyan seminary at Lima, New York. He read law with D. G. Shuart, George P. Townsend, and Smith & Cornwell at Lyons, New York, and attended the Law school at Ballston Springs, New York; he was admitted to practice in Schenectady in 1850. The following year he began the practice of law in Rochester and continued until January, 1864, when he was appointed city attorney. In July, 1863, he was commissioned as paymaster in the army, with rank of major. He served until the close and was mustered out November, 1865 at Louisville, Kentucky. Returning to Rochester he resumed his practice, and in 1867 was nominated and elected surrogate of Monroe county; his inestimable value for surrogate found expression in the fact that he was many times reelected, serving in all sixteen years on the bench. The firm of Shuart & Sutherland was established January 1, 1884, and is now located at 1005-9 Wilder building.

  From Rochester and the Post Express; A history of the City of Rochester from the earliest times; the pioneers and their predecessors, frontier life in the Genesee country, biographical sketches; with a record of the Post Express
compiled by John Devoy (1895)
page 212


Martin Warren Cooke was born at Whitehall, Washington county, New York, March 2, 1840. His father, William W. Cooke, an extensive lumber dealer, died in 1884. His mother's maiden name was Hearty Clarke, of Vermont. He began his education in the common schools, finishing the local course at Whitehall academy. He then attended Grammar school in Rochester, and at the age of fifteen was admitted to the University of Rochester. In 1860, then entering his twenty-first year, he was graduated with the degree of A. B., cum laude. In 1863 he received the degree of A. M. from his alma mater, and in the same year was admitted to the Rochester bar, having pursued his study of law under the late Hon. Henry R. Selden. In 1863 he was admitted to partnership with the late Hon. Sanford E. Church, which continued until 1870, when Lieutenant-Governor Church was elected Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. Mr. Cooke has argued many important cases in the State and United States courts and in the United States Supreme court. In 1880 he was appointed one of the examiners of applicants for admission to the bar, and has since been reappointed annually by the General Term, and for several years has been chairman of the board. He has been a member of the executive committee of the New York State Bar association for many years. He has held the office of treasurer, and was twice elected president of the association. He is a member of the Baptist church. He is also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society. He is a chose student of art, literature and science; in 1868 he published a book entitled The Human Mystery in Hamlet. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In the Fall of 1889 he was nominated by the New York Republican convention for the office of State comptroller, but though defeated, his vote greatly exceeded that of the head of his ticket. As a lawyer he is among the leaders io this section of the State. In 1866 he married Miss Augusta W. Buell, daughter of Mortimer Buell, Esq., of Rochester.

From Rochester and the Post Express; A history of the City of Rochester from the earliest times; the pioneers and their predecessors, frontier life in the Genesee country, biographical sketches; with a record of the Post Express
compiled by John Devoy (1895)
page 212


It is doubtful if there is one among the many who knew the late Henry G. Kobbe, who would seriously dissent from the assertion that in his decease the city host one of its most reputable and respected citizens. His death, March 13, 1892, while he was yet but in the prime of life, was universally regarded by his friends as one of those dispensations to which, while it is futile to rebel, mankind has never become reconciled. Endowed with a genial nature that made friends wherever he went, and possessed of capacity to achieve the highest distinction in his calling, it is not to be wondered that his intimate friends retain a warm regard for his memory and look back regretfully to years in which their intercourse was unbroken. Mr. Kobbe was a native of Altenburg, Saxony, in which ancient and renowned city he was born in 1840. Fifteen years later, in 1855, he determined to try to better his fortunes in the United States. He accordingly left his native land and became one of the millions who gave up Old world associations and turned their faces to the West. St. Louis, Missouri, was the American city in which he first settled, but he did not stay there long, for, hearing of the Flower city, he came East more than twenty-five years ago and engaged in the drug business, at which he prospered to a degree that was an indication of his skill as a pharmacist. Although he gave strict attention to his business, Mr. Kobbe was not so wrapped up in trade as to be uninterested in movements calculated to promote the welfare of people in other directions than through financial success. He was a member of Salem church congregation; of the Pharmacists' association; of the Maennerchor, and was one of the founders of the Monroe club In 1877 he married Frederica W. Wolff, who survives him.

  From Rochester and the Post Express; A history of the City of Rochester from the earliest times; the pioneers and their predecessors, frontier life in the Genesee country, biographical sketches; with a record of the Post Express
compiled by John Devoy (1895)
pages 212 - 213


When, through the development of our illimitable Western empire and the consequent transfer of the wheat-growing center from the valley of the Genesee to the prairies of the Northwest, Rochester's preeminence in the preparation of flour was yielded to a western city, it is a source of satisfaction to all who live here that when Rochester ceased to be the Flour city it became without a rival the Flower city. The fame of Rochester's nursery business has spread over the world, and it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that in every quarter of the globe the flowers and fruits of the earth are fairer and sweeter from having had their origin in Rochester. Among the men who have by their energy and enterprise, contributed largely to this result Alvah D. Pratt is conspicuous. He was born of American parentage in Auburn, Massachusetts, March 17, 1842, and was educated at Andover in the Bay state. He came to Rochester in 1879 and engaged in the nursery business, with which be has ever since been associated. He mastered it in all its details and has long conducted a profitable wholesale and retail trade. Mr. Pratt is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. His wife was Miss Sophie S. Lewis, and their residence is No. 202 Court street.


Go to Biography main page.

Go to previous page.

Go to next page.

Home Go to GenWeb of Monroe Co. page.